Changes in the pore network structure of Hanford sediment after reaction with caustic tank wastes

L. E. Crandell, Catherine Anne Peters, W. Um, K. W. Jones, W. B. Lindquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


At the former nuclear weapon production site in Hanford, WA, caustic radioactive tank waste leaks into subsurface sediments and causes dissolution of quartz and aluminosilicate minerals, and precipitation of sodalite and cancrinite. This work examines changes in pore structure due to these reactions in a previously-conducted column experiment. The column was sectioned and 2D images of the pore space were generated using backscattered electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy. A pre-precipitation scenario was created by digitally removing mineral matter identified as secondary precipitates. Porosity, determined by segmenting the images to distinguish pore space from mineral matter, was up to 0.11 less after reaction. Erosion-dilation analysis was used to compute pore and throat size distributions. Images with precipitation had more small and fewer large pores. Precipitation decreased throat sizes and the abundance of large throats. These findings agree with previous findings based on 3D X-ray CMT imaging, observing decreased porosity, clogging of small throats, and little change in large throats. However, 2D imaging found an increase in small pores, mainly in intragranular regions or below the resolution of the 3D images. Also, an increase in large pores observed via 3D imaging was not observed in the 2D analysis. Changes in flow conducting throats that are the key permeability-controlling features were observed in both methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-99
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Erosion dilation
  • Mineral precipitation
  • Pore size distribution
  • Porosity
  • SEM


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